Friday, January 21

Hong Kong removes memorials to Tiananmen massacre


Beijing

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The cancellation of rights in Hong Kong and its homogenization with the rest of the Chinese territory advances unstoppable. Few gestures more symbolic in this process than the withdrawal in the last hours of up to three monuments in memory of the Tiananmen massacre, the pro-democracy protests that shook China between April and June 1989 and that the Communist Party silenced by directing the Army against the population. .

Before dawn today, the Chinese University of Hong Kong –CUHK, for its acronym in English– has withdrawn under the cover of night ‘The Goddess of Democracy‘. This statue, measuring more than six meters, is a reproduction of the one, even taller – ten meters -, that the students made in white plaster and planted in the center of Tiananmen Square, in front of the portrait of Mao Zedong, as a symbol of his defense of individual freedom against totalitarianism.

“Following an internal evaluation (…) the CUHK has removed the statue,” the institution confirmed through a statement issued this morning. “We never authorize their placement on campus and no organization has taken care of their maintenance,” added the text. The two responsible groups, the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of China’s Democratic and Patriotic Movements and the university’s student union, announced their dissolution months ago in the face of government harassment.

The same fate has run a mural from Lingnan University. This represented, among other reasons, fatalities being dragged by their companions and the ‘Tank Man’, the anonymous individual who interposed before the advance of the armored vehicles. A spokesman for the center has assured that “in accordance with the interests of the university, the object in question has been disassembled and stored appropriately.”

Also, the University of Hong Kong withdrew yesterday, also before dawn, ‘The Pillar of Shame‘. The sculpture, erected in 1997, was placed inside a red container deposited in an outdoor storage area with restricted access. The governing council justified its decision by relying on “external legal advice”, although it also referred to the “structural risks” of the facility and the lack of official permission.

The two works removed today were created by sculptor Chen Weiming. Both were donated by the artist, a New Zealand citizen and resident of the United States, after immigration authorities denied his access to Hong Kong to participate in the Tiananmen vigil in 2010. “Since the Chinese Communists implemented the National Security Law in Hong Kong, they have eradicated freedom of the press, assembly and expression, “the artist denounced in statements to the ‘Reuters’ agency. “They want to remove the true story of the brutal repression … they will not allow other different points of view to continue to exist in Hong Kong.”

A censored memory

Every June 4 since 1989, Hong Kong people gather to honor the memory of the hundreds of people killed during the Tiananmen protests, episode covered by a hermetic censorship in the rest of the Chinese territory. Local authorities first banned this call in 2020, citing the risk to public health posed by the pandemic, but tens of thousands of attendees defied the order. In 2021 they did not authorize the vigil either and the population, again, returned to walk the streets carrying candles or lighting the flashlights of their mobile phones.

This controversial decision is part of an offensive by the Chinese Communist Party to end independence From Hong Kong. This campaign dates back to June 2020, when China imposed the National Security Law, a new legal framework – which violates the Basic Law that governs the territory and international agreements for the return of sovereignty – used to tie up the opposition, civil society and the media. Last week the territory held its legislative elections, after the local Executive delayed the elections for more than a year and manipulated the process to make it impossible for the pro-democracy front to attend.

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